Last night I went to bed with a heavy heart. Our cat Skutch has gotten up there in years and was resting peacefully in her bed and getting ready to cross the heavenly bridge to be with our pets who have gone before her. I knew she would not make it through the night.
Skutch was born when Rhi was around 15/16; 19 or 20 years ago. We called her Skutch because she skutched everyone by living! She was this tiny little thing, the runt of the litter; that could fit in the palm of my hand when she was 8 weeks old. Tiny, tiny, tiny; but so full of love!
Memories of her have been flooding my brain for the last several days. They begin with Rhi coming home from school to find her cat, Baghera in labor. She called my mom who came over to sit with her while the process ran it's course. When I came home from work they were hanging out in her room with Baghera who had had two or three kittens.
The third birth was Skutch. She came into this world whining and spent much of her life letting you know she wanted attention, wanted a bite of what you were eating and that she was here and not to be forgotten! Baghera had pushed her to the edge of the box shortly after she was born and would not let her nurse.
My mom said there must be something wrong with her that Baghera can tell. That whole nature takes care of itself thing she said. Baghera is doing what is natural, making room for those who are healthy and need her milk. I could not stand by and watch this tiny creature whine loudly looking to be fed. I don't even know how Baghera could deal with it.
I grabbed a wash cloth and wrapped Skutch up tightly to keep her warm and headed to the pantry. I found some powdered milk, a shot glass and a tiny baby spoon left over from when my kids were young. A little bit of hot water added to the milk in the shot glass gave me a make-shift formula. I thought to myself, hopefully this will work as I have nothing else available and if I go to get something I am never going to hear the end of it. My mom kept saying that even if I fed her she probably would not make it through the night..
Her mouth greedily opened wide for me to feed her a drop or two at a time, I was careful not to make her choke. She did not eat too much and after about 5 minutes she became quiet and went to sleep. She seemed more content and happy and had stopped that whining.
At the time I had a Llasa Apso, Sebastian, who was very "motherly" to all of our pets. He sure should have been female the way he acted. He sat with me in the recliner with Skutch wrapped up in her wash cloth, nestled between he and I. We spent the night sitting there with Skutch, feeding her every time she awoke tolet us know she was hungry.
My mom returned in the morning to find me and Sebastian still in the chair with Skutch nestled between us. She was quite surprised that she lived through the night and told me to try and get her to nurse and see how Baghera took to her. She reprimanded me slightly telling me that I may have opened up a can of worms and would have to continue my hourly feedings if this attempt did not go well. She felt that I should have just left well enough alone.
I approached the nursing box that had been put together for Baghera to find her beaming as she showed off all those little kittens nursing away; she ended up having six or seven when she was all done. I unwrapped my little Skutch and put her into place to nurse and nuzzled her nose against a nipple ready to burst with milk. It was a great day when Skutch grabbed on for dear life and became part of this new family!
Skutch has always been the runt! Unlike other cats she never got fat and lazy, she has always been thin and tiny with great silky and shiny black hair. A very sweet personality although some times her behavior had me scratching my head and wondering if perhaps Baghera knew something that first day. All in all Skutch was a great cat and a great addition to our family.
When Espy became part of our family Skutch was the only one to welcome her with open arms. Boo Boo would chase her, snapping at her heels, barking up a storm. Poor Espy would go skurrying on the tile floor, quick to get away from Boo as soon as she could.
Not Skutch, she would rub against Espy, chew on her ears or her mouth and welcomed her with open arms. It was not uncommon to see them lying together, sound asleep. They spent lots of time during the day and it was not uncommon to see them play together on the floor. It was quite a sight, this big meaty dog softly mouthing this thing, tiny cat. The dynamic duo I use to call them because they were so unlike.
We started noticing that Skutch was having a harder time with life. She got slower, stopped leaving the yard, had to be picked up to eat her dinner on the laundry room counter. Slowly she began to show her age. She always had an appetite but food did not seem to fill her out even as she got more sedate. She still continued to patrol the yard for quite some time and make sure that Gretchen (the cat who adopted us) knew it was her territory and she could keep her space to the front of the house!
About two weeks ago we noticed that Skutch spent more and more time just sleeping in the yard. She would go out in the morning and come in at night for dinner. It rained one day and she just laid by the tree and slept; it was then that I knew things were taking a turn. Then we noticed she was not eating her dinner; then she stopped going outside at all and found her bed and curled up quietly and began to sleep more and more. Over the weekend we were trying to give her water but she had no interest. She just slept.
Little meows let us know she was still with us when we would sit beside her on the floor and visit. She seldom moved anymore. A search on the internet let us know she was getting close to the end and a conversation ensued concerning taking her in to be put down. We decided that as long as she was not in any pain, we would prefer to be here with her, loving on her, until the end.
I stopped each time I went to the rest room yesterday as her bed was outside the door. She would meow quietly as I pet the side of her face; she so loved to have her face pet! David and I both said our goodbyes before we wandered off to bed last night knowing that she would be gone before we got up in the morning. Another chapter in our lives has closed and we are starting to feel our age. It's bad enough you have the aches and pains of age but when your furry loved ones start leaving you after so long, you begin to realize life is very short.
Sweet slumber Skutch. I hope you remembered to tell Sebastian, Zima, Boo Boo, Phoebe and Yogi how much I missed them. I miss you already!